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'Worse than it's ever been': QC hospitals almost out of beds due to COVID-19 surge

Hospitals serving the QC community say COVID-19 patients are taking up a majority of beds.

MOLINE, Illinois — Quad Cities hospitals have nearly reached capacity, as beds are being overrun with COVID-19 patients, according to staff.

Hospital officials with Genesis Health System and UnityPoint Health - Trinity said that in the last month, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has doubled.

"This is a severe situation," said Dr. Kurt Anderson, chief medical officer at Genesis. "It's worse than it's ever been. It's worse than it was a year ago."

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During a virtual news conference Wednesday, Dec. 15, Genesis staff announced they have been averaging 70 patients over the past week. 

Anderson said Genesis is experiencing the most difficulty in critical care areas. He said 80% of all critical care beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, 90% of whom are unvaccinated. Every person hospitalized with COVID-19, a virus can be avoided through vaccination, masking, social distancing and other preventative measures, prevents another patient from being treated for other health emergencies.

"Patients who have acute stroke, patients who have a heart attack, patients who have an emergent surgery that requires intensive care after the surgery, were reduced to 20% of our capacity to be able to manage those cases," Anderson said. "If you or a loved one … has a traumatic accident (or) has an unexpected medical catastrophe, we have not near the level of care that we would normally have to take care of any problem - let alone COVID."

UnityPoint is also experiencing a similar trend. As of Wednesday morning, the hospital had 120% of its ICU beds occupied, and 80% of the hospitalized patients have COVID-19. Hospital administration said the increase in patients has put a strain on already exhausted health care staff.

"The staff is tired and exhausted," said Dr. Toyosi Olutade, chief medical officer at UnityPoint. "They're working long hours. The people that usually work 12-hour shifts, they have to work 14-hour shifts … and they have to come back the following day to continue to care for the patients."

Both hospital systems have also started reducing the number of elective surgeries being performed due to limited beds.  

In Wednesday's news conference, hospital staff and Quad Cities health officials stressed the importance of getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public and maintaining social distance when indoors.

RELATED: When and where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

"You may not like the options in front of you, vaccines and masks," Scott County Health Department Director Amy Thoreson said, "but you can't like the situation in front of you, either, if you need medical care for you or your family."

As of Wednesday, the Quad Cities has a 60% vaccination rate for those ages 5 and older.

"It is now up to our community," Thoreson said. "It is up to each resident to make a choice to be part of the solution or, unfortunately, be part of the problem."

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